Genealogy and Family Trees
Learn From Home Activity
In partnership with East Gwillimbury Public Library
Researching family history is easily one of the most exciting projects for museum and library workers. It's even more interesting when it's about your own family. As you gather sources and information related to your ancestors you begin to feel like a detective, uncovering the truth behind old family stories, finding photos and sometimes, making connections with relatives you never knew you had!
The early residents of East Gwillimbury were also interested in genealogy, which is the study of family history. Many of the members of the Children of Peace recorded their lineage and passed along the stories of their ancestors to future generations.
Individuals like Emily McArthur (1837-1924) and David Graham (1827-1910) were particularly well versed in family research with McArthur being a descendant of both the Willsons and the Doans of Sharon. Graham, meanwhile, recorded family history and community stories in his "Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Township of East Gwillimbury and its Pioneer Inhabitants" from 1908.
In organizing this program, we wanted to learn more about David Graham. Sarah Harrison, Customer & Community Service Specialist at the East Gwillimbury Public Library used resources like Ancestry Library Edition and Find A Grave to research David Graham and his connections to East Gwillimbury.
David Graham was born to Jeremiah Graham and Jane Graham (nee Burr) on October 14th, 1827. His father occupied what he called the “Burr Farm” on Queen Street, which is now Leslie Street, in Queensville. Jeremiah had been a member of the Children of Peace for a short time - such a short time that his membership was never captured in any of the census records. Along with his brothers William, Richard and John, he had also participated in the 1837 Rebellion.
As David got older, he took over the family farm. He married Susan Emily Wardell in about 1850. In David Graham’s writings titled “Recollections of the Early Settlement of East Gwillimbury and its Pioneer Inhabitants” (1908), he notes that they had a total of ten children together - five sons and five daughters. However, in the 1871 Census, there are only nine children recorded living in their house. These children are:
Mary Jane Graham (b. 1852);
Lavinia Graham (b. 1854);
Jeremiah Graham (b. 1856);
Alberta Graham (b. 1859);
William Graham (b. 1862)
Emmerson Graham (b. 1864)
Seward Lincoln Graham (b. 1866)
Herbert Graham (b. 1868)
Annetta Graham (b. 1869)*
*These dates of birth for the Graham children are approximate, and may not necessarily be accurate.
The 1861 Census lists an additional daughter with an illegible name who would have been born in or around 1857, between Jeremiah and Alberta. It appears that she did not survive and died prior to the 1871 Census.
In about 1867, David Graham moved his family up to a farm near Sutton, and purchased some property in North Gwillimbury on Concession 7, Lot 20. He must have been a prosperous farmer, since he seems to have acquired a lot of land around North Gwillimbury after this time. He died in North Gwillimbury on May 10th, 1910, due to a combination of “heart disease and old age” according to his death certificate. He is buried in the Queensville Cemetery, along with his father, wife and three of their children.